Don’t Let Rattlers Take a Bite out of Your Spring

by Victoria Rubay

Rattlesnake season has officially begun, and the curiosity of our pets can bring about a dangerous reality. Rattlesnakes emerge when it’s hot, so you and your dogs may find them in your favorite hiking spots or even in your backyard. If your pet is bitten by a rattlesnake, you must rush to your nearest emergency veterinarian to get anti-venom. The area where your pet receives the bite may swell up like a balloon. And keep in mind, anti-venom is not cheap, either – sometimes as expensive as $1,000.

Partly because of the expense, it’s important to educate yourself on ways to prevent bites. One way to do this is to take a rattlesnake avoidance course. Most courses cost anywhere from $70-$130. In a rattlesnake avoidance course your dog is introduced to the sight, smell and auditory senses of a rattlesnake. Often taught with a shock collar, once the rattlesnake rattles, the pet is negatively reinforced, or shocked. And while it may sound inhumane, it is a technique that has proven to work, which then protects your pet.

Another way you can help prevent harm to your dog from a bite is by getting the rattlesnake vaccine. It helps by creating antibodies that aid in neutralizing the venom. It slows down the resulting illness, so it gives you more time to get to the veterinary clinic. The rattlesnake vaccine can also inhibit bites from a sidewinder or copperhead – snakes with a similar venom. If you have any questions about the rattlesnake vaccine, do not hesitate to call your local veterinarian.